Having your first baby is so exciting, but that’s not to say those first few days can’t be absolutely crazy!
As a soon-to-be mom I really enjoyed hearing about other moms’ experiences and thought it helped tremendously to prepare me for what was to come.
So now that I’ve been through the whole experience I’d like to pay it forward, so to speak, and let other new moms know what they can expect!
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You won’t get too much sleep at the hospital
This fact totally shocked me and my husband! Besides the fact that nurses come into your room about every two to three hours (even during the night!) because most hospitals now have a rooming in philosophy, it’s highly likely that you won’t get too much shut eye.
Your tiny little baby is just learning how to exist outside of the womb and will probably want to sleep on you those first two nights–which means not too much sleep for you!
Additionally, my nurse warned me about “second night syndrome,” which is essentially when your baby wants to nurse all night! This is pretty common newborn behavior, and the technical name for this is cluster feeding.
All this to say, besides recovering from just giving birth, those two to three nights you spend at the hospital won’t be too restful, so it might be a good idea to have friends/family stay with you when you get home from the hospital so you can catch up on some rest!
You don’t need all of that stuff for your hospital stay
I felt like I needed to cram my hospital bag full of stuff. Guess what? I didn’t use even half of it. You really only need a few crucial items and snacks! For the love of everything, don’t forget snacks!
I’m not someone who enjoys hospital food and if it wasn’t for my snacks, plus the meals some of my family members brought me, I would have starved! Don’t forget about packing enough snacks for your partner, too.
As I prepare for the birth of my second baby, you can read this article to find out what I’m bringing to the hospital this time around.
You need to make a pediatrician appointment before you leave the hospital
This isn’t a big deal, but just something that’s helpful to know– make sure you find a pediatrician you like before you deliver. The hospital staff won’t let you leave until you’ve called to schedule an appointment for your newborn!
You (likely) won’t walk out of the hospital in pre-pregnancy clothes
This was potentially one of the biggest surprises for me! I didn’t expect to wear my pre-pregnancy jeans home from the hospital, but I certainly didn’t plan to still look 5 or 6 months pregnant when we left.
Pack your favorite pair of maternity leggings for the drive home so you can comfortably fit them over your bump. Don’t worry, your bump will go down over the next several weeks, but don’t be shocked or even upset if you still look pregnant even after you deliver.
And while I’m at it– don’t even think about getting on the scale. They’ll weigh you at your 6 weeks checkup, and that’s the first time you need to see a scale, as far as I’m concerned.
When you’re well on your way towards recovery and are able to get a little more sleep you can start working on you again, but until then, give yourself grace.
Related reading: How to lose weight without losing your milk supply
Healing from birth is no joke
Besides the fact that you’re running on no sleep, you’re also healing from just giving birth. Depending on how you delivered and if you tore or not during delivery, your recovery can take some time.
There will be a lot of blood after delivery–and this can linger for weeks. The hospital will give you mesh panties that you can place pads in.
The hospital will give you a peri bottle that you fill with warm water and spray while you pee–the best relief ever, trust me. Take this home with you and use it for the next week!
You’ll likely also get a prescription for stool softeners, so make sure you take those for at least one, if not two weeks, and you shouldn’t have any problem going to the bathroom after you deliver.
Don’t underestimate the power of a sitz bath! The hospital may give you one, but if not, you can find one for pretty cheap. Using a sitz bath several times a day can really help you recover faster. Fill with warm water and epsom salts for best relief!
Use the lactation consultant the hospital provides
Breastfeeding may come naturally or it may take a while to get the hang of it–for both you and your baby. The hospital has lactation consultants on staff. If you haven’t seen one in the first several hours after delivery, just ask if one can come to your room!
You can request to see lactation consultants as often as you like during your stay, so please don’t miss the opportunity to get some help if you’re struggling with breastfeeding.
After you get home you can make appoitments to go visit lactation consultants, too. So don’t feel stuck if breastfeeding isn’t clicking.
Related reading: 13 breastfeeding tips I learned from my lactation consultant
Breastfeeding was going fine for me at the hospital, but as soon as we got home, something was off and my daughter all of the sudden hated breastfeeding!
I finally went to see a lactation consultant who helped tremendously. There’s no shame in asking for help!
Your hormones will be wonky
If you thought your hormones were out of whack during pregnancy, just wait until postpartum–they will be straight up crazy!
Just be prepared for random crying spells, mood swings and feeling completely overwhelmed. Give yourself grace! Do not try to do it all. If someone offers to cook you a meal or clean your home, let them. You need to focus on healing and caring for your little one.
Be prepared for postpartum sweats
After you give birth your body begins the natural process of ridding itself of those extra fluids you once had to nourish baby. Unfortunately, this process typically happens at night in the form of postpartum night sweats!
You might consider laying on a towel if the sweating is particularly heavy and make sure to have a small fan close by, too. Don’t forget to drink a lot of water, especially if you’re breastfeeding too, as sweating a lot can lead to dehydration.
The night sweating phase is usually short lived, so rest assured it’s just a temporary annoyance.
Eat, poop, sleep on repeat
For the first several weeks, your newborn will be on a strict schedule of eat, poop, sleep, repeat. Make yourself comfortable, let the house go and focus on caring for baby and recovering from delivery.
Curious as to what those first six weeks might be like? Here’s a newborn schedule, week-by-week.
You will feel clueless, but that’s okay
There’s nothing quite like getting the go ahead to leave the hospital with your newborn. You’re excited, yet terrified, as you’ve never had this type of responsibility before.
Don’t worry about having it all figured out–there will be lots to learn and you’ll need to lean on the support of experienced mothers, your partner and your own intuition. Little by little, you’ll figure it out.